Health Secretary Matt Hancock walking up to 10 Downing Street 160920 CREDIT PA.
Coronavirus

Health Secretary: Armed Forces To Help Distribute Coronavirus Vaccine

Less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the head of the country’s vaccine taskforce.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock walking up to 10 Downing Street 160920 CREDIT PA.

The Health Secretary has said the military would be involved in distributing a potential coronavirus vaccine. 

Matt Hancock told the Tory conference on Sunday that a vaccine was "the great hope". 

"The Prime Minister said this morning there will be some bumpy months ahead but we are working as hard as we can to get a vaccine as fast as is safely possible," he said.

"The plans are in train. A combination of the NHS and the Armed Forces are involved in the logistics of making this happen, making the rollout happen.

"Because it’s not just about developing the vaccine and then testing the vaccine – which is what’s happening now – it’s then a matter of rolling out the vaccine according to priority, according to clinical need.

"We have set out the order in which people will get it. We have set that out in draft pending the final clinical data."

The Armed Forces have played an important role in the Government's response to the coronavirus crisis, helping to deliver vital equipment, building the NHS Nightingale facilities and assisting in the rollout of mobile testing sites across the country. 

Most recently, personnel from the Royal Air Force have been deployed to Birmingham, supporting the city council's Drop and Collect coronavirus testing scheme following a rise in cases in the city.

According to the head of the UK's vaccine taskforce, less than half of the population could be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Last week, RAF personnel were deployed to Birmingham to support a Drop and Collect testing initiative (Picture: RAF).

Kate Bingham told the Financial Times that officials were hoping to be able to administer the medicine to around 30 million adults in the country of around 67 million and "we just need to vaccinate everyone at risk".

She said: "People keep talking about ‘time to vaccinate the whole population’ but that is misguided.

"There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18.

"It’s an adult-only vaccine for people over 50, focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable."

Experts have also warned it may take more than a year for everyone in the UK to get a COVID-19 vaccine should one become available next year.

Professor Nilay Shah, head of the department of chemical engineering at Imperial College London, said even if a vaccine becomes available in early spring, it does not mean life will be "returning to normal in March".

He said although the clinical trials for many of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates are currently being fast-tracked, they will still have to demonstrate a protective effect against COVID-19 and go through all the regulatory checks before being rolled out to the population.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johson said he does not "want to get people’s hopes up on the vaccine unnecessarily".

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: "It’s possible that we will make significant progress on the vaccine this year.

"I went to see the scientists at AstraZeneca in Oxford and those teams and they seem to be doing fantastically well.

"But I don’t want to get people’s hopes up on the vaccine unnecessarily because I think there is a chance, but it is not certain."

Cover image: Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Picture: PA).